Mereham has no prospect of success'

PUBLISHED: 10:57 17 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:01 04 May 2010

Local people protested outside the Arkenstall Centre in Haddenham during the enquiry process. Photo: HELEN DRAKE

Local people protested outside the Arkenstall Centre in Haddenham during the enquiry process. Photo: HELEN DRAKE

GOVERNMENT planning inspector Richard Ogier, who will decide the fate of the 5,000-home Mereham new town, has been told the project involved no joined up thinking and left a number of loose ends. The scathing comments were made by Simon Bird representing

GOVERNMENT planning inspector Richard Ogier, who will decide the fate of the 5,000-home Mereham new town, has been told the project involved no joined up thinking and left a number of loose ends.

The scathing comments were made by Simon Bird representing the district and county council in his summing up on the last day of the Mereham inquiry.

He said: "The appellant has pursued an appeal which had no reasonable prospect of success and it must have been obvious to it that it had no reasonable prospect of success throughout.

"This inquiry has served to demonstrate the obvious. Proposals for new settlements for which the existing policy framework provides no support, should be pursued through the development plan process in the interests of good planning.

"There has been no genuine opportunity for the public to influence the proposals before this inquiry. There has been no joined up thinking engaging all relevant stakeholders and service providers leaving a number of loose ends."

Australian development company Multiplex took its case to appeal after East Cambridgeshire District Council rejected its project for a new town between Wilburton and Stretham.

Over seven weeks, Multiplex and the councils, along with more than 70 individuals and organisations, battled it out at Haddenham's Robert Arkenstall Centre.

Now Mr Ogier is expected to tell the Government whether the project should go-ahead or whether the appeal should be dismissed in the week beginning April 21.

Summing up for Multiplex, Robin Purchas reiterated the company's claim that there is an "immediate and pressing shortage for housing land" in the area and that the authorities have not demonstrated that an adequate supply of building land is available now to meet requirements.

"Mereham as a sustainable new settlement is suitable and available," he said. "The Mereham proposal would bring substantial public benefit. It would secure housing in the short and long term to meet the identified needs, in particular affordable housing needs.

"We would accordingly ask that the appeals be allowed to enable this important development to proceed without further delay.

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